Martin Whitmarsh said today that McLaren has not yet signed contracts with drivers for 2014 – and sounded less convincing than hitherto when discussing the future prospects of Sergio Perez, who many believe will be dropped.
When asked if Kevin Magnussen was in the frame, Whitmarsh declined to be pinned down.
“Lots of people are being considered, when we come to the end of those considerations, we’ll make an announcement,” said Whitmarsh in a phone conference.
“I think firstly we have not provided either of our drivers with a good enough race car this year. So in those circumstances Sergio’s been a great team member. He’s made a spirited contribution, he’s produced some really good races, some exciting races, and ruffled a few feathers. And I think he’s done a pretty good job throughout the whole year. Abu Dhabi was difficult, it was not quite the result that he wanted or we wanted, but it was a difficult weekend, and those happen.
“I think that he’s done a good job. We’re still talking to him, certainly. There’s all sorts of things that I’ve read in the media. The fact is at the moment we haven’t confirmed our driver line-up, we haven’t signed contracts – plural – with drivers, so we’re still talking about that. There’s a lot of honest feedback, both ways, I think it’s best done in private and not in public.”
Whitmarsh was also asked if Perez was driving for his McLaren career over the next two races.
“I think Sergio is a very talented racing driver, I think it’s been a difficult year for him, partly as I said at the outset because we haven’t given him a good enough car. I think he’s a determined driver, he’ll be driving very hard in Texas I know, it’s the closest he’s going to get to home crowd this year, and he’ll want to do a good job in front of those people. We’ll be do everything with him to see if he can get a good result.”
A cynic would point out that for precisely that reason this would not be the ideal time to tell the world that Perez has been dropped.
Regarding the requirement for an intelligent driver in the 2014 turbo era, he said: “I think certainly in an era of change you need bright drivers. I think Sergio is a clever guy, and I think in that regard he’s a good driver for anyone next year, including ourselves.”
He added: “I think we’ve got two intelligent drivers now and I think we’ll have just that next year…”